Wednesday 26 June 2024

ALBUM NEWS: MICHELLE - 'Songs About You Specifically'

Only the best news from Transgressive Records, always. They're celebrating their 20th (!!) anniversary this year with a run of shows later in the year and festival showcases, starting with Glastonbury later this week. For now though, album news from the label: New-Yorkers MICHELLE are back, following up their recent EP GLOW with news of an upcoming album. Their third studio record, Songs About You Specifically is due on September 27th, and features first single Oontz which you can hear below. Silky smooth and groovy as ever, I'm adoring this, and them. They're such a refreshing, exciting collective - a group that I'm always so thrilled to recommend to anybody who'll listen.

On the new record, the group have a new found closeness and vulnerability, formed through time spent living and writing in a house in Ojai, California and on the road. Talking about the developing bonds between the band, Emma shares: "there are friends I've had for almost my whole life who I won't know as intimately as I know members of this group. There isn't really an opportunity for that in any other kind of relationship in your life."

MICHELLE are Sofia D'Angelo, Julian Kaufman, Charlie Kilgore, Layla Ku, Emma Lee and Jamee Lockard.

You can pre-order and pre-save the album here.

Follow MICHELLE - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 17 June 2024

LISTEN: Stornoway - 'Excelsior' (Edward Nesbit and Tom Hodgson Rework)

Somehow, criminally, I haven't posted about Stornoway here yet this year. Let's fix that. It is a Monday night (almost) in June, after all (IYKYK.) They've a new acoustic version of Anwen on the way this week which I am very excited to hear having listened to Brian and Fyfe Dangerfield playing the track a few times at the London Wetland Centre during and after their album launch event there last year. 

For now, though, I'm enjoying this latest version of Excelsior, a reworking of the track by composer Edward Nesbit and my friend Tom Hodgson, a beloved member of the extended Stornoway touring party, featuring Sydney Wang on piano. The track was already beautiful, a highlight of one of my favourite records of the last few years, and this version is a stunner. Tender and poignant and somehow mournful and celebratory at the same time, I love it. 

I'm reading How To Read A Tree by Tristan Gooley at the moment (among far too many other books to admit) so trees are very much on the brain at the moment, and this song is about ash dieback, a fungal disease affecting our ash trees. The ash tree's scientific name is 'Fraxinus excelsior' (hence the name of the song) with excelsior translating from Latin to 'ever upward'. I think that the song is a kind of call to arms to do what we can to protect nature, to appreciate the wonders of nature around us - something that is at the heart of everything the band do. 

Talking about the track, Ed and Tom share: “When we first heard Excelsior, we were struck by its expressive beauty and lyricism, and immediately started to think of ideas for a new arrangement. Our version, with a new accompaniment inspired by romantic piano writing, attempts to capture the beauty of nature, as well as sorrow at its loss.”

You can catch Stornoway at a few more festivals before the year is out - all the info on upcoming shows here.

Follow Stornoway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday 2 June 2024

LISTEN: Hailaker - 'Co-Star'

Goodness. We've made it to June and I've only posted on the blog ten times this year. So much has been happening, and it is so difficult to find the time. I've spent much of May travelling on buses and trains to get to work. I promise I am always on the look out for new music, even if I've not been so great at sharing it here. As I am always saying however, I reaaaaaally want to write more. I have so much great music to share - and I really love flexing those writing muscles too.

Jumping in on a Sunday off work to share the latest from Hailaker. They're releasing third album Serenity Now on June 26th (a belated birthday present to me, very much appreciated) and Co-Star is the final single taken from it. Jemima and Ed are both brilliant on their own, but I have such a soft spot for this project and this track is no exception. 

Writing about the new track on Instagram, they shared: "I’m realising there is a theme throughout the whole project, or more like a personality to it. It’s that of someone who sits somewhere in the middle of things, is unenthusiastic about doing anything, feels as though their life is hurtling past them and they can’t catch up with it, slightly and often overwhelmed with insecurity. Maybe what we (Hailaker) draw from is just snippets from that life and that personality, relationships, dreams, memories, tiredness, lots of tiredness ahaha.

Co-Star is a mantra to that life, the keeping going, riding the emotions. It expresses something near to a taoist philosophy: ‘it is what it is’… That maybe all this feeling of not being good enough just comes down to accepting and moving on. In that way Co-Star pinpoints the shift from the stories told in Holding to the ones of Serenity Now."

Hailaker play shows in Bristol and London this September - dates and last tickets here.

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.